Cathkin Park, once home to the Third Lanark Football Club, is a large park located in the South of Glasgow. The stadium was built in 1884 and was named Hampden Park when it first opened, serving as the home for Queens Park F.C. before becoming the home of Third Lanark. At its peak, the stadium could seat up to 50,000 fans. However, the team ran into trouble in the 1960s, and the club entered liquidation, playing its last match at Cathkin Park on April 25, 1967. Nowadays, the stadium is considered abandoned by some, although it still provides fond memories for a few. Children still play football on what used to be the pitch, and a reformed Third Lanark team currently plays in the park, along with Hampden AFC. Cathkin Park Ltd is a company committed to restoring the park to its former glory and protecting it as a World Heritage Site. The restoration project began in February 2018 and is expected to continue slowly but properly, ensuring the restoration of the terraces while retaining the stadium's look. The project has received positive feedback from joggers and park users, and Cathkin Park Ltd is making a documentary to monitor their progress.
Simon Weir reminisces about the history of Cathkin Park, which was home to football in Scotland since 1884. The ground was used by Third Lanark and other clubs until it was shut down in 1967. The council sold the land for housing but it could not be built upon due to a caveat that stated it must remain a playing field. Over the years, the ground was vandalized and abandoned. However, the site still remains as a playing field due to the council's caveat. The ground had a pavilion and a stand, which were burnt down in the 1970s and by the 1980s, the site was falling apart. Today, there are five main sections of terracing left out underground and the area where the pavilion and stand used to be is now an empty site. The trees around the site were initially seedlings and were used in public parks and streets as well. Simon Weir was motivated to get involved in the site due to his interest in football tourism and the ground's historical significance. Cathkin Park was initially built for Queen's Park Football Club in 1884 when they moved from the bowling club across the road. The ground was one of the first proper all-ticket grounds in British football and was important to the way British football was played. The passing game was invented at the ground, which changed the game from 1-1-8 to 2-2-6 and passing football. The Scottish guys played against the huge rugby-playing public school Englishmen and went off and passed the ball to the side. Simon Weir's great grandfather played at Cathkin Park and scored over 50 goals for Third Lanark.
At the entrance of the park, a post with a small black plaque catches the eye. It reads "Cathkin Park, home of Third Lanark Athletic Club," a reminder of a team that went from finishing third in 1961 to extinction just six years later. Despite the club's tragic end, the park remains a symbol of its legacy and the loyalty of its fans who refuse to let its memory fade away.
In the wake of the first-ever international match between Scotland and England, a group of interested spectators, some of whom were part of the Third Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteer Regiment and had previously played for nearby Queen's Park, decided to form their own football team. This decision led to the formation of the Scottish Football Association in 1873, with Third Lanark being among its founding members. Today, Third Lanark's legacy lives on through its impact on the Scottish football landscape and the fond memories held by its supporters.
The beautiful game gained immense popularity as its fanbase expanded rapidly. In Glasgow, a thriving hub of talent emerged, boasting four of Scotland's premier teams: Queen's Park, Rangers, Third Lanark, and in due course, Celtic.
In 1965, Third Lanark found themselves facing relegation, and the club was struggling financially. There were issues with money not being deposited and the accounts being out of date. Some players had had enough and took matters into their own hands. Mike Jackson and Evan Williams decided to buy themselves out of their contracts, while others made their own transfer deals to secure their signing-on fee instead of leaving it to club owner Bill Hiddleston.
The final game at Cathkin Park was a 3-3 draw against Queen of the South, where John Kinnaird scored two to earn the draw in front of a dwindling home crowd. Just three days later, the club would suffer a lackluster 5-1 defeat to Dumbarton at Boghead Park, marking the end of Third Lanark. Upon their return to Glasgow, the players were asked to go to the manager's office, where Bobby Shearer, the club manager, handed them envelopes filled with coins and broke the news that it was over. It was widely believed that Hiddleston had made Shearer do his dirty work.